People have heard of and can recall the seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices and cardinal sins. But, so often we cannot name the virtues which help us overcome these sins! Rather than focusing on the sins which bog down our spiritual life, turn your eyes to the virtues which can help break the bonds of sin. The Catholic Church has distinctive categories of virtues. The 7 heavenly virtues, also called the Capital virtues, contrary virtues, heavenly virtues, are the virtues which overcome the 7 deadly sins: lust, greed, envy, anger, pride, and sloth.
Chastity overcomes the sin of lust. Everyone could use more chastity in a world that is constantly displaying sexual images. The Catholic Bible tells us that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. The virtue of Chastity can help calm our lustful desire for sexual acts and restrain our wandering eyes.
Generosity overcomes the sin of greed. Our lives can be filled with a yearning for material goods. Material objects can block our vision of Christ who told us to give to the poor. This means not only do we give what we have in “excess” but to surrender all of our time, money, and spiritual gifts to those in need.
Temperance overcomes the sin of gluttony. Gluttony wants us to give into our self gratification for eating and drinking, among other things. Temperance is our ability to control ourselves and these desires. We may fall into the trap of self indulgence but during these times we can call upon the virtue of moderation.
Kindness overcomes the sin of envy. Our love for someone should be without bias or spite. God blesses each of us in different ways. Envy will cause a rift in your relationship with God and others. Look upon your life with positivity rather than counting the ways God “hasn’t” blessed you.
Meekness overcomes the sin of anger. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world”. When He was confronted by angry crowds who wanted to torture and kill him, he prayed for them. How often do we become upset and consumed by trivial matters? Use Christ as your model, control your anger and resentment and cultivate patience through this virtue.
Humility overcomes the sin of pride. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble! Pride is the devil’s sin, and just like him Satan wants us to hold ourselves up as gods. Everything we have is from God, and everything we do is derived from the gifts he has given us. By being modest we can turn outwards and lift up those around us.
Diligence overcomes the sin of sloth. The virtue of diligence aids us in fulfilling our duties and cultivating a strong work ethic. Sloth draws us in to be lazy in all aspects of our life, physical and spiritual. We should develop our talents and gifts rather than keeping them wrapped up in sloth
All other sins stem from 1 or more of these deadly sins. By praying for these 7 heavenly virtues we can keep each of these sins from creeping into our lives. Start praying for these virtues daily to help defeat Satan and these vices. Swap out your 7 deadly sins for these 7 heavenly virtues!
For more information on the virtues and vices refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.